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Photo Essay

Schools get off to a flying start in North Texas

Fort Worth ISD, Northwest ISD and Birdsville ISD offer aviation training
  • Northwest ISD students work together in a competition to build the tallest freestanding tower.
  • Northwest ISD students use tape to reinforce their tower during the Bell Helicopter STEM challenge.
  • Northwest ISD collaborates with Tarrant County College and Bell Helicopter to offer students dual-enrollment credit in aviation mechanics and a private-pilot license program.
  • Northwest ISD students work together in a competition to build the tallest freestanding tower.
  • Students from Northwest ISD flew remote control helicopters in the Bell Helicopter STEM challenge.

Teaching students to dream high is one thing. Teaching them how to help others fly safely is something left to ambitious districts.

Over 2,500 aviation jobs open each year in Texas, and North Texas alone has more than 300 industry employers, including Fort Worth’s Alliance Airport. Fort Worth ISD, Northwest ISD and Birdsville ISD have teamed with area companies and colleges to offer aviation and engineering training opportunities in their career and technical education programs.

North Texas-based aviation companies recruit students right out of Fort Worth’s Dunbar High School based on senior projects.

Last fall, a few students and educators in the high school’s program flew with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels during the annual Bell Helicopter Fort Worth Alliance Air Show. And 60 middle school students from the districts designed, built and flew remote control helicopters as part of a STEM Challenge at the air show.

Bell Helicopter also launched a collaborative aviation and engineering training program with Tarrant County College’s aviation department and Fort Worth ISD. It will enable students to earn college credits in production and manufacturing.

Fort Worth ISD’s aviation tracks include flying, engineering and aviation technology. Dunbar High, a partner with Bell Helicopter and Tarrant County College, is building a $2 million aviation hangar and classroom and expanding coursework where students will earn credits toward FAA certificates, says Alma Charles, Fort Worth’s director of career and technical education.

Northwest ISD collaborates with TCC to offer students dual-enrollment credit in aviation mechanics and a private-pilot license program. The district will also offer a new aviation career training opportunity to students after signing an agreement with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.